New Britain hip-hop dancer shoots for the top on Fox

Published on Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:33
Written by Kristina Vakhman

Special to the Herald

NEW BRITAIN - Kyle Bennett Jr. never imagined he’d be performing on national television when he started dancing at age 11.

Now 22, the New Britain-based hip-hop dancer has found himself living out his dreams as a top 10 male contestant in Fox’s 15th season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

He competes for a place in the top 5 tonight at 8 on Fox (WTIC-TV, Channel 61).

“It’s surreal,” Bennett said in a phone interview. He’d just arrived at Los Angeles to prepare to compete for a Top 5 spot on Monday. “I haven’t even really processed it. I can’t believe I’m here.”

Bennett has trained for this since the day he asked his friend to teach him the wave dance, back in sixth grade.

Lacking even minimal professional training, Bennett spent his childhood and teenage years seeking informal lessons wherever he could. He’d ask fellow dancers for help and jump at opportunities to participate in workshops, dance battles and groups.

It didn’t take long for dance to become Bennett’s “entire life,” providing a breath of fresh air to turbulent situations including his previously rocky relationship with his parents and his family’s constant moving from town to town.

Dancing, he said, made him feel like a superhero or an anime character.

“I’ve always had food on the table and clothes on my back. Financially, my family lived a pretty stable life. But my mom and dad weren’t together. I left my dad’s house to live with my mom in New Britain so I could dance with my friends. Dance has been an escape for me,” he explained.

In New Britain, Bennett stayed busy. He became part of a dance group called Calligraphy, rehearsing and touring with it. He also picked up photography and made plans to pursue acting.

Additionally, he landed on Season 14 of “So You Think You Can Dance,” making it to the top 20 before being sent home. Bennett admitted that the experience took a toll on his confidence, but it eventually pushed him to work harder and to audition again for Season 15.

Now, Bennett has his eyes set on the future. He hopes to one day dance in commercials and movies. If he wins “So You Think You Can Dance,” he wants to make sure his family can share the fruits of his labor with him.

He says that on tonight’s show, he’ll be doing a contemporary dance - something out of his comfort zone but, nonetheless, exciting for him.

“It’d be a dream come true to make it to the live shows,” Bennett said. “It would really propel me forward to accomplish everything that I want to accomplish. It also means to me that this is just the beginning. Just because I got here doesn’t mean that I can be comfortable. I need to step it up. I just got to a new level and I need to be ready for that final boss fight.”

Kristina Vakhman can be reached at

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:33. Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:35.